The World Englishes anthology project (CCC Press) focuses on the production of new fiction writing in English, specifically new World Englishes Literature and on writing which is newly sourced, edited and presented with a critical introduction.
Each country anthology of new writing goes through a sequence of processes; firstly, a call for short stories is launched electronically through email lists of writers, writing groups, universities and other relevant organisations. Once submissions have been received and read, a journey to the respective country is arranged in order to meet with the writers who have submitted their work as well offer an opportunity for others who have not yet heard of the project to come along and learn about it.
Making the journey to the country in question is paramount. The journey to meet the writers is one that is made in order ‘to listen’ and not ‘to tell’. ‘Listening’ to those who know, to those who are writing the literature now, are those to whom the anthologies aim to listen. In developing the call for submissions it was rationalised that anything more than the straightforward concern of the respective country, would be leading and would therefore potentially lead the writers to tackle themes dictated by the UK-based editor; ‘the Western Armchair’ thus the calls for submissions are simply entitled or themed ‘Nigeria’ or ‘Malaysia’ for example.
The critical introduction to the country anthologies benefits from this act of ‘listening’ and in doing so, aims to present an accurate portrait of the writing emerging from the country in question. The visit to the country also affords me the opportunity to research the history of writing in English in that place, emerging criticism and contemporary literary events, all of which concern themselves with writing in English.
The anthologies’ stories range from 3000 to 10,000 words in length. Most of the writers presented in the country anthologies are not ‘known’ to the Western reader and also possibly to readers of their own country. This is a basic tenant of the anthologies; to promote new, emerging writers, often unknown to the West, writers who have not been ‘endorsed’ by Western publishing houses, but whose writing tells wonderful new stories in wonderful, new ways.